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Ukraine dairy farm milks on generators as Russians bomb power plants

By Chris McCullough for Tri-State Livestock News
With numerous energy blackouts each day generators are being used to power the milking parlours.
KU3

AS Russia continues to bomb power plants in Ukraine a dairy farmer has been forced to milk over 1,500 cows using diesel generators.

Currently there are over one million homes and businesses across central and western Ukraine without power. About 40 percent of the country’s electric power system has been severely damaged, according to Ukraine’s president Zelenskyy.



Many cities in the country are undergoing blackouts of up to four hours at a time to try and conserve power.

However, cows still need to be milked and on one dairy near the city of Kropyvnytskyi, the diesel generators have been going for days to keep the farm running.



The farm is part of the MUNNT group of companies, and is owned by Mykola Monashok and his son, who are businessmen in Ukraine.

Romanian born Ion Moraru is one of three managers on the farm and has worked there for the past three years. He has over 15 years experience in the dairy industry and gives lectures at universities on dairy farming and beef cattle farming.

Ion said: “Our dairy farm was established in 2005 and is located in the centre of Ukraine in the region called Kropyvnytskyi, 300kms north of Odesa. It is a large arable region and our company cultivates ten thousand hectares of corn, sunflowers, soybeans, rapeseed, wheat and barley, some of which are used to feed the dairy cows.

Ion Moraru has been a farm manager on the farm for the past three years.
Ion Moraru has been a farm manager on the farm for the past three years.

“Currently, there are 1,560 dairy cows milking on the farm, with the total number of cattle at 4,050. All the cows are of the Holstein breed and are yielding 35 litres of milk per cow per day with 3.6 percent butterfat and 3.2 percent protein.

“We milk our cows three times a day, with the exception of fresh calved cows, which we milk twice a day for the first 10 days after calving.

“For the past few days we have had to use the generators to milk the cows as Russian forces continue to bomb our power plants drastically reducing the energy supply across the country,” he said.

Cows are kept indoors all year round on this farm in comfortable barns and have free access to fresh TMR feed. The milkers are divided into groups of fresh calved cows, first calving cows, lactating cows and cows being dried off. The dry cows are also divided into two groups.

Calves are raised in individual pens until they are 60 days old, and then in group pens, which are divided into groups of three to five months and six to 12 months.

Ion said: “The farm currently employs 65 workers. We work with several milk processing plants and are satisfied with current prices.

“The farm has two milking parlours. One is a 32 point rotary and the other is a six aside parlour. There are no robots on the farm as we are not supporters of robotics on the dairy farm. We know how to work very well with people and how to organise their work well.”

With numerous energy blackouts each day generators are being used to power the milking parlours.
KU3

Even with a terrible war going on around them, Ion and the team continue to do their work and are continuously thinking of how to improve the farm’s efficiency.

Ion said: “We do not stand still and are developing our dairy business as much as possible within the realities of this terrible war. We plan to invest in the processing of animal manure for fertilisers in the future, once this war is over.

“There are enough problems on the farm, most of them are still related to the war. However, our motivation is that we did not stop, we will not stop, and will continue to work diligently, because we believe in the victory of our country.

“After the war is over we plan to continue breeding cows, to milk cows and do all this in order for our country to prosper. Of course we have the usual problems of increased prices for veterinary medicines, milking parlour care products, fuel and spare parts for equipment,” he said.

While some of the farm staff have gone to assist the Ukrainian Army Ion insists the farm will continue to function as normal.

He said: “We don’t talk about it, we’re not used to crying, we’re used to working. We thank God and continue to work. There is a brutal war in our country started by the terrorist country Russia.

“No one in our country is safe from a Russian missile. Several of our workers are at the front and defending our country from the Russian fascist horde.

Even though the war is ongoing the cows still need to be milked every day.
Even though the war is ongoing the cows still need to be milked every day.

“Our plans have not changed, we will continue to develop the milk production business. We plan to grow with the herd of cows and their productivity. We also plan to raise more heifers and have a desire to modernise the milking parlour.

“Other plans are to further improve ventilation for cows and to switch to sand bedding for cows. However, the most important thing is victory to Ukraine in this war!” he added.